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06 July 2005 @ 12:42 am
Rant: In Which I Seriously Lose My Shit and Piss off a Lot of People in the Process  
Really. No doubt about it. Shit in the process of being lost as we speak.

Why am I losing my shit and finding a new faith? I am so glad you asked that. I am losing my shit because I am surrounded by people who disregard the basic laws that hold society together. So I have cobbled together a new religion, one that may just save my sanity. But only if people follow the commandments of sex, and writing, and especially writing about sex, which were handed down to me just minutes ago on a kind of - well, parchment-y thing.

Behold the truth as revealed to me by the goddess of smut:

Use commas or I will pray for your salvation1, you grammatic infidel. Behold the comma:


Isn't it cute? Doesn't it look like something you would like to take home and snuggle all night? Wouldn't you marry that comma if it was single? (It isn't; it and the period are in a long-term relationship. But it's an open one, so the comma is still available for a cheap one-night stand.) More to the point, wouldn't you like to give that cute little curly guy a home in your story? Because, trust me, there are places he belongs. It's really tough to write an entire story that doesn't need a comma anywhere, and it's unlikely that you did it without intending to. So, really: use the goddamned comma. If nothing you have written in the past decade shows any evidence that you a) have a keyboard with a comma key and b) know where said key is and how to use it, you are partly responsible for me losing my shit.

I hope you're happy. Because I? Am not.

Use apostrophes or you are destined for the hell controlled entirely by burned-out English teachers and people like me. So. The apostrophe:


It looks very much like a comma, although just how much will depend on your font of choice, and I am not going to dictate. I am no fontophobe. (Well, except that I do hate people who write papers in calligraphy fonts, but only because it has a negative effect on me personally. I mean, seriously, if you're that determined that I should go blind? Just run up to me and poke at my eyes with a stick or something. That way, at least I don't have to suffer damage to my eyes and read your pathetic excuse for a thesis statement at the same time.) But here's the key difference between apostrophes and commas: one goes up top and the other goes down below. They're like the bras and panties of the writing world, people. You should not leave home without a bra and panties (Unless, yes, you are either not a woman or not generously endowed, but see the part where I said I was losing my shit - don't expect the insane frothing ranting woman to be careful to include all viewpoints and sensitive to everyone's issues and to file a rant environmental impact statement and a rant sub-contractor who fulfills all 181 points of the fair hiring statement, because - losing. My. Shit.), and you should not write a story without apostrophes and commas. ("But I do not use contractions!" If there's dialog, honey, please let there also be contractions. Yes, you can occasionally get away without them, but most of the time you leave your characters sounding like actors in local amateur theater productions of Shakespeare plays. Worse case scenario, amateur Shakespeare actor with stick up ass and lockjaw. Very few characters sound this way naturally. Trust me on this.)

Use both commas and apostrophes correctly or the bad scary punctuation demon will come for you. Would you wear a bra on your head and panties on your feet? Well, OK, I see your point there. Bad example. Because, really, who wouldn't? But, like, would you wear them that way at a formal party when surrounded by people you hoped to impress? No. Because the key to stylish bra and panty use is to know where they go - inside the clothes, for example. And as with underclothes, so with punctuation. You have to know where it goes. If you don't, there are people you can ask, books you can read, remedial classes you can attend. Or, hell, just stick a big ol' warning on your story: "I have no idea what a comma or apostrophe is and even if I did I would not use either because I am a Punctuation Iconoclast and I do not need your stinking dogma to come between me and the beauty of my thoughts." Then I will not read you, but your fellow Punctuation Iconoclasts will, and, lo, happiness will reign upon the earth. Until then, I will be here in the corner, seriously losing my shit.

Know the difference, and that knowledge will set you free. Specifically, it will cause us to set you free from the dank little room where we keep the unrepentant misspeller. "You're" is not the same as "your." There is a critical difference between "its" and "it's." "They're" does not equal "their" does not equal "there." Good and right-thinking people may occasionally make mistakes about this. It happens. You're typing along, and suddenly - whoops! You've committed a cardinal grammar sin. You apologize, you move on, you try not to let it make you want to end your life drinking rotgut in some anonymous bar in northern Colombia, dealing arms while answering to the name "Mamajama." But have some shame. Show some sense of propriety. Make a serious effort to get it right all of the time, especially in stories. Stories have beta-readers for a reason, and that is one of them, and if you are a good person you will remember that, and your stories will show evidence of your goodness and your memory. If not, fine. Hope you enjoy the dank little room, because I for one am not letting you out any time soon.

The only moral justification for alphabet soup is dinner. Remember, not everyone who is reading your LJ is intimately acquainted with your fandom, your pairing, or your brain. If you call someone, say, AS (made-up example), I have no idea who you mean, which sort of takes away my ability to, you know, get your post. Oh, I will still read it, but I won't understand it. And if you say a story is "post-ABCD" and expect that that's all the scene-setting you need to do? Well, I will eventually figure out what you mean by this, even if I have to perform complicated statistical analyses and maybe sacrifice to ancient, hostile gods to do so, but that's because I'm a) determined b) wily and c) unwilling to let anything stand between me and FF. Trust me when I tell you that a more sensible person would just give up. Will just give up, because the world is full of people more sensible than I am.

The thing is, OK. I don't expect you to spell everything out all the time, but wouldn't it be possible for those of you who actually want new converts to your fandoms to, like, post a list of common acronyms? Because if "JF" is the only clue you're willing to give me, I'm likely to assume it stands for "Jesus Freak," which makes subsequent slashy remarks a little surreal. We are not in the military, people. Acronyms are not the only things that stand between us and the embarrassment of everyone figuring out that a lot of what we do is trivial. We know what we do is trivial, and we are proud of that fact, and frankly we would be even more proud if we could understand what the hell other people were talking about most of the time.

Boogie shoes go on feet, not on cocks. Get this wrong and smiting will follow. (Also possibly unfortunate medical consequences, so this is really important, folks.) See the cock! See the cock bounce! See the cock get down! Dance, cock, dance! By which I mean, OK, yes, I get what you mean when you write about bouncing cocks, or cocks springing free, or cocks just generally displaying their apparent urge to shimmy like my sister Kate. I'm fine with that, good to go with that, happy to read it. But ah my foes and oh my friends, enough is enough: don't let's get to the point where I'm reading the sex but asking myself if the cock is on a strict program of aerobic exercise, and if so, is there some secret Guy Store where you can get the DVDs "Quickies: Ten Minutes to a Whole New Healthier Cock" and "Kathy Smith's Pure Man Muscle" and "Cockercize with Rodney Yee"? Because if not, maybe some of these cocks should see a doctor before they up their activity level this much. Hell, given that some of them seem to shake more than your average vibrator, maybe they should look into seizure meds. My point is that there's a good-sense limit to the cock-bounce action. Unless your story is called “Cock on a Hot Tin Roof,” in which case, you know what? I love you so much that it doesn’t matter.

The road to hell is lined with inappropriately important blue balls. Oh my god. Can we never, ever see blue balls as a major plot point again? Because, OK. See, blue balls is not some agonizing and potentially deadly malady that strikes down all men who do not get immediate sexual gratification. I promise you - emergency room doctors see penile fractures and priapism and the results of unfortunate experiments involving creative sexual encounters with inanimate objects, but "sexual frustration" does not have a recognized diagnostic code, people. I'm sick unto death of reading stories written by people who apparently believed what their 8th-grade boyfriends told them. So he got turned on but he didn't get off. He'll recover without heroic measures. But, I swear, you won't recover all that quickly from what the goddess of smut will do to you. Just, you know, FYI.

As it was revealed to me, so I have revealed it to you. Go with the goddess, sisters and brothers, and please, I'm begging you, sin no more.

Or god only knows what will happen to my shit.


1 And by "your salvation," I mean "my salvation from your writing, no matter what that takes."
Tags: [rant]
erjika: We are as Gods!erjika on July 6th, 2005 12:48 am (UTC)
Unless your story is called “Cock on a Hot Tin Roof”

I love you.
tried to eat the safe banana: Ivythefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 12:56 am (UTC)
It is entirely mutual, believe me.

*fervently embraces co-religionist, assuming you are one, and even if you are not, the goddess of smut loves you anyway*
(no subject) - erjika on July 6th, 2005 12:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - erjika on July 6th, 2005 01:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
kalimyre: Daniel flagkalimyre on July 6th, 2005 12:51 am (UTC)
Oh my f*cking god that was hilarious. I found myself nodding along and muttering, "See? That's what I've been saying!" I'm cackling over here. You've driven me to actual loud, squawky cackling. Thank you so much, for I was having a craptastic evening and you've just brightened it considerably.

May I link to this in my journal and recommend it for mirth value?
tried to eat the safe banana: Smilethefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 01:02 am (UTC)
May I link to this in my journal and recommend it for mirth value?

Definitely, and thank you for wanting to. (You never have to ask to link to anything in this LJ, but I always appreciate hearing about it if you do. It feeds, you know, the ego-monster in the basement, who I try to keep quiet but who is mostly...not very quiet, actually.)

And I'm happy to have improved your craptastic evening. And also happy to hear I'm not the only one sitting here being all curmudgeonly, hissing under my breath, "How much would one comma have slowed you down, speed writer?"

I post these rants mostly to make sure I'm not alone in my pedantry. Which apparently I'm not, at least not this time. YAY!
(no subject) - kalimyre on July 6th, 2005 02:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
Minim Calibreminim_calibre on July 6th, 2005 12:56 am (UTC)
I am trying very hard to laugh quietly. Very quietly. Dear lord, funny.
tried to eat the safe banana: Yaythefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 01:05 am (UTC)
*hugs you, but very very quietly*

(And thank you.)
Mal: fraser comic by spiffydazemalnpudl on July 6th, 2005 12:57 am (UTC)

Sing it, sister!
tried to eat the safe banana: The world is my fandomthefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 01:07 am (UTC)

(And thank you! I am definitely feeling the love tonight, which is good, because I sort of feared this was a Rant Too Far, if you know what I mean.)
nysick on July 6th, 2005 01:05 am (UTC)
>>>>Would you wear a bra on your head and panties on your feet? Well, OK, I see your point there. Bad example. Because, really, who wouldn't?

that kills me

wonderful, wonderful rant
tried to eat the safe banana: Word whorethefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 01:10 am (UTC)
Is this the wrong time to confess that it took my parents several months to teach me-aged-three that panties did not go on my head?

Yeah, probably. I suspect it undermines my credibility to a substantial degree.

Still, it is the truth, and who am I to deny it?

(And thank you. I'm happy you liked the rant, and I hope my confession doesn't make you sorry you said so.)
(no subject) - nysick on July 6th, 2005 01:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
torch: cookingflambeau on July 6th, 2005 01:07 am (UTC)
Hee! Can I put in a word for the comma I miss most? "Help Rodney!" is not the same thing as "Help, Rodney!" and "I don't know John" is not the same thing as "I don't know, John." And I'm not going to go on and on, but, you know. Cheering you on. :)
tried to eat the safe banana: Lovethefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 01:16 am (UTC)
Re: (e)vocative
Oh my god YES YES YES. (Note that I am so violently in agreement with you that I have been driven to poor usage.) I want to weep when I see those sentences, and not just because the sentences themselves are so obviously distressed and confused and saddened by the loss of critical punctuation. There's also the fact that it throws me out of the story every single time, and if I'm thrown out of a story for that more than once? I will not be trying to get back in. Not in this lifetime. I mean, I may not have the sense to come in out of the rain, but I know when to hit the back button, by gum.

Perhaps we should start some kind of public campaign. We could call it: "Bring Back Commas Before We All Lose Our Minds. For the Love of God. Seriously. We're Begging You."

Well, OK, that needs some work, but I think the sentiment is right.
Re: (e)vocative - flambeau on July 6th, 2005 02:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: (e)vocative - kelliem on July 6th, 2005 09:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: (e)vocative - cupidsbow on July 7th, 2005 04:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: (e)vocative - barkley on July 6th, 2005 04:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: (e)vocative - thefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 01:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: (e)vocative - flambeau on July 6th, 2005 02:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: Housethefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 01:19 am (UTC)
But when someone writes Cock on a Hot Tin Roof? I want to be there for the stage show.

Oh, excellent. You can sit next to me. But, as a warning - you do realize, don't you, that in this day and age it will have to be a musical?

*hums "Cock Be Nimble," the foot-stomping second-act closer from Cock on a Hot Tin Roof*
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 05:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
fairestcat on July 6th, 2005 01:16 am (UTC)
*can't stop laughing*

This? This post is a thing of beauty.
tried to eat the safe banana: Stylethefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 01:20 am (UTC)
Thank you!

*basks in praise*
ficbyzee on July 6th, 2005 01:17 am (UTC)
You? Have the best goddamn rants ever. seriously.

And now I'm thinking 'Cock on a Hot Tin Roof' would actually make a great title for a DC story. Considering that we probably win the contest of most rooftop sex.
tried to eat the safe banana: Lovethefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 01:22 am (UTC)
Go write that right this minute. I am not kidding. Because it is a crying shame that the DCU does not currently contain at least one "Cock on a Hot Tin Roof," and I look to you to remedy the situation.


Cock + Hot + Tin Roof + Bird Boys = Golden. Write! Now!
(no subject) - ficbyzee on July 6th, 2005 01:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ficbyzee on July 6th, 2005 02:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
Proactively Untwist Octagonal Hippopotamus Pants: hellz yeahdramaturgca on July 6th, 2005 01:20 am (UTC)
Amen, sister!

*continues to giggle*
tried to eat the safe banana: Fondue forks for everybodythefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 01:24 am (UTC)
Thank you! And do continue to giggle; this is pretty much a free giggling zone, right here. (In other words: glad you liked it, thrilled to have made you laugh.)
Finn: FMA- Edward Raawwrtallisen on July 6th, 2005 01:28 am (UTC)
I have just converted. :)
tried to eat the safe banana: Friendthefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 02:51 pm (UTC)
Welcome to the fold, sister. Please help yourself to punctuation-shaped cookies, and go with the love of the goddess of smut.

(And thank you!)
(no subject) - tallisen on July 6th, 2005 04:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
cyanei on July 6th, 2005 01:37 am (UTC)
Right, screw Catholicism. Sign me up.

Also? Just for amusement's sake, I now have a bra on my head.
tried to eat the safe banana: Greek to methefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 02:58 pm (UTC)
*embraces and welcomes to the fold*

I, too, have worn a bra on my head. Probably more than is acceptable in some of the stricter religions. So, good thing I have this new faith, isn't it?

Martha Stewart style hint: the pretty bras, with lace and so forth, make great hats. If you've got a larger cup size, fold the bra in half and put the cup over the top of your head, neatly tucking all the straps underneath, and admire your classy beanie look. If you've got smaller cups, hook the bra under your chin to make a fetching ear-type head adornment.

And I guess this is pretty much definitive proof that I'll share anything on LJ, huh?
(no subject) - cyanei on July 6th, 2005 05:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: Word whorethefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC)
No, thank you, my sister in grammatical love. It's good to know that I'm not alone. (Really. It is. Because there's nothing lonelier than a solitary pedant, you know?)
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 03:09 pm (UTC)
I'm already married, but perhaps we could all gloriously co-habit, flouting societal conventions and giving the current presidential administration an ulcer in the process. I'd be up for that.

Or, failing that, read my senior thesis? I'll write in on grey text with a white background in "Desdemona" font just for you.

The real tragedy of this isn't that it made me laugh. It's that I've read - or rather, seen and winced at - papers worse than that, except those students weren't doing it deliberately. (Best yet: the font was one of those bitty, illegible handwriting fonts, and the student had obviously printed it in green or red or something, then photocopied it with blackish ink using an ancient, poorly-maintained copier. And this paper also had pictures. And, what with the bittiness of the captions and the graininess of the photocopy, it was impossible to tell what said pictures were. And there were more pictures than actual text. I still get a migraine if I think about that one too long.)

Insurance companies cover Viagra but my insurance company made me fill out endless paperwork for my broken ankle.

Next time maybe you should get the doctor to diagnose it as "Orthopedic Erectile Dysfunction." That would probably go through.
Milkshake Butterfly: 2005 is the year of the roostermilkshake_b on July 6th, 2005 01:46 am (UTC)
Unless your story is called “Cock on a Hot Tin Roof,” in which case, you know what? I love you so much that it doesn’t matter.

Oh, that entire paragraph gained you somuch love from me. Not only was it hilarious, it also addressed one of my own personal pet peeves; I can actually recall at one point yelling at a story, "FOR GOD'S SAKE, ENOUGH WITH THE TWITCHING AND BOUNCING. HE'S NOT A PUPPY AND THAT IS NOT A TAIL."

Also, I would add this to your comma rant: the comma is a sweet and loving creature, and longs to be introduced into your writing, but remember that it is a small being, and trying to make it do too much will break it. Be kind to your commas and do not make them do things that should be done by the bulkier, tougher punctuation, like periods and semicolons. Yes, yes, I know--I, too, once abused the comma thus, giving it tasks too great for it. But I repented and reformed, and so can you! Also remember it's very important to properly handle your semicolons; an abused semicolon can turn on its owner, and that's not something anyone wants to see.
plus one skeleton: Marfil delurkerdelurker on July 6th, 2005 06:09 am (UTC)
Hee! I love this comment so much, especially the comma-as-an-abused-pack-animal metaphor. And your icon.
(no subject) - thefourthvine on July 6th, 2005 04:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - milkshake_b on July 8th, 2005 09:59 am (UTC) (Expand)